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Future of Reading Education. (2012) The 2012 Boston Book Festival Panel, 'Future of Reading.' New.

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Us 8, Boston 6, Nicholas Negroponte 4, America 3, Maryanne Wolf 2, Baratunde Thurston 2, Harper 2, Henry James 2, Kurzweil 2, New York 2, Circus 1, Mitt Romney 1, Imprinted 1, Cheryl Cramer 1, Porter 1, Amy Ryan 1, Campbell 1, Obama 1, Abc 1, Pagination 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Future of Reading  Education.  (2012) The 2012  
   Boston Book Festival Panel, 'Future of Reading.' New.  

    November 24, 2012
    4:45 - 6:00pm EST  

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we should slowly ratchet back by $100,000 a year and most of all we need even more commitment to urban schools. i would like world in which we did less subsidizing for low density areas and less engagement overall, cities that are perfectly capable if they are empowered or have resources to solve their own problems. i would rather have that happen. >> barbara and that ayanna pressley gets the last word. >> interesting thing to remember. race to the top started with george bush and was advanced by obama. we are doing things at the national level to reduce the education disparity. obamacare started with mitt romney. it was romneycare before and giving access to health insurance is one of the most important things we consume in this nation to level the disparities in health and the disparities created by lack of access to health insurance.
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so we have bipartisan support for two of the most important things that are going to level us. the things we don't do is think about where do we help the most people the fastest, thinking about per capita returns on investment and our biggest weakness as a nation is community colleges, it skill gaps that we have left open. left wide open between the industries we are holding on to as we compete globally and how well we have done educating the people to take their place in the economy and i would hope whatever agenda comes forward we have an agenda that is deeply focused on adult learning, adult education, community college and finding more ways for people to constructively entered the economy. >> i would concur with many of those points. i am grateful i live in a state that has the governor in deval
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patrick, living in a country with president barack obama. i am vigorously supporting him. creating a better access to educational opportunities and health care which is eliminating other disparities. the thing that is important we not obsess about, 99% or 47% and remember there are people behind those percentages. people who have been struggling and living in poverty. talking about the shrinking middle class, who are they joining? i want a president and a governor and a mayor that believes in making critical investments in physical infrastructure and in people's that supports the role that everyone has to play in the economy including kid putting people on a path to self sufficient lead. that is as important. >> round of applause for our panel. [applause] >> up next booktv takes you to
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the fourth annual boston book festival for a panel called the future of reading. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> good afternoon. my name is amy ryan, president of the boston public library and is an honor and pleasure to welcome you to the boston public library for the boston book festival. i would like to thank all the staff, particularly the abrupt porter, founder of the boston book festival for this amazing lineup this weekend of content rich programs. [applause] >> you can imagine my intense interest in this program, the future of reading and all of us in the library world are. i look forward to hearing your comments and what i would like to do is introduce the
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moderator, said campbell. [applause] >> it is my pleasure to be here today and i would like to start by thanking debbie and her team for putting on a great event. it is wonderful to spend the day here. very exciting for me to be on this particular panel because it cuts to the heart of what this event is all about, reading. and what the future of reading is. i am excited to have with me some of the most thoughtful people that i have seen and i will introduce them. nicholas negroponte who is founder of the m.i.t. media lab, and the chairman of -- former director of mit's media. [applause] >> the director of reading at talks university of.
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[applause] >> cheryl cramer toto is senior vice president of planning and strategy at hot and mifflin. [applause] >> baratunde thurston is comedian, author of the book "how to be black" and former director of digital for "the onion". [applause] >> robert darnton is director of harvard university, professor at harvard university. [applause] >> we are going to start out by having each of the panelists to the four minute presentation on what they see as the future of reading and we will go into a discussion from there. we start with nicholas negroponte. >> thank you. i modestly suggested i go first because i wanted to talk about
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the basics, not particularly advocate one future or another. in thinking about it over the years, i realized there's a very distinct difference between the future of words and the future of paper. they get conflated. then, once you tease those apart, there is a very big difference in the general topic of the future of narrative, whether the narrative loses some of the value and interest in longer form because our attention spans of gone down and whether narrative instead of one medium has multimedia and uses the brain differently. i wanted to separate those facts and say a word on media, in a very general sense, so many times people tell me we went from the tablets to the scroll to the book to we got maybe --
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and now we have another one called digital. rubbish. digital is not on the continuum of the others. it is the basic dna that for the first time allows us to represent this body that can then, from those bits, be turned into video war photography or images or sounds or whatever. on a general tone, the future of words themselves, they are not going to go away. let's talk about the visual form or the audio form. they are represented by this. some people think digital books are new. digital books have been -- every book in the last 40 years is in digital form for a typesetter. then it becomes non digital once it is on paper but almost all the books you have read in your
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life were photo typesetting from a digital representations of a book. and the bits that it takes to make a letter and then the number of bits and words and so on is very small. a novel is about eight million or maybe ten million bits. when you click a photograph on your new high resolution camera, you are taking a about -- about eight million bits. you say what difference it takes, hours to read the ones in text form but i can glance at those so the ratio of bids is a very fundamental issue because we can store all the books and then i want to make one last general remark about e-books. there is no question that the form, once they are all represented digitally, should be at least distributed electronically because there's no wage or inventory and they
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travel at the speed of light. and what is going to be the thing that tilts this is the fact that there are 1 billion new readers headed our way in the next five years and those billion people cannot be sent pieces of paper. it is not possible. you cannot mail paper to 1 billion readers let alone update it and do all those things but we are going to lose something. one of the things we lose, people are very nostalgic including me, when you have things called books, you have built in to that the memory. most people have libraries, walking to your library, you can remember when you read every book you read in that library. you can remember the color of the spline, you remember how heavy it is. there are certain things that are going to disappear like they do with the digital music. we don't have cds.
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but again, you have to separate these and once you compartmentalize them and realize the basic dna, the digital, the future of reading is really i but the future of paper is really low. that is my four minutes. [talking over each other] >> it will appear on the screen in a moment. >> i don't want to take one second, you heard of talks that are very brief, this is the book talk. the reality is a little different than what nicklaus saying. [talking over each other] >> i need someone to show me where -- i lost 30 seconds on
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that one. how many of you heard ray kurzweil speak? when he was talking about pattern recognition, this is something that i want to clarify for you a little bit in the story of their reading brain. i will ask three questions. a narrow scientist and member of the species who will steward the next generation with these questions. first, can the evolution of the reading brain inform the future reading brain? can insights into the reading brain influence the future of books? can socrates' and crossed provide information on both? you see the multiple circuits that are possible. before when you saw this, this is not what ray kurzweil was talking about. we build a circus. my friend nicholas negroponte
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said the dna digital. there is no dna for reading. is not natural. what reading does is show us how the brain learns something new, how it creates a new circuit for all parts and if you look at this you are going to see how each system uses to different circuit. now the good news is that this shows us the extraordinary nature of narrow plasticity but there is something else, it also indicates to us there is no one reading brain. is going to be influenced not only by the writing system but by the medium itself. that is what i believe. our society is in an enormous transition. whatever words we use it as a transition from a more literate print based society to a digital culture. how does that affect us? those of you who have read a little bit about natalie phillips's new work on jane austin's brain, english major
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looking into neuroscience, what she found is the brain when it reads in tensely, what i call deep reading is activating extraordinary number of neurons. they're reading brain, however, after 280 milliseconds, absolutely gives you a very superficial surface reading. the ability to read in a deep fashion, to think about in france, to think about print, to go beyond the tech to our and insights requires not only extract milliseconds in that brain but requires years of concentrated thinking and comprehension skills. my major worry is as we move into this medium we are going to be changing the surface in ways
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that we do not at this moment understand. we are looking at this moment in the textbook industry towards digitizing everything without the evidence to save this is right for this time, this reader, etc.. the advantages everyone knows, we are talking about massive information and ray was extraordinary about that but we are also talking about differences in how we comprehend things. here, i go back to socrates'. socrates -- he was wrong. he said something that was indelibly imprinted in my mind when i saw his face, that he feared the permanent seeming nature of print would give the illusion of truth and create no ambition in the young biondi superfluity of knowledge. is that superficial reading the
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new threat that we face as an species? as the next generation of readers? will let in fact show -- short circuit the brain? there is no question it will save -- change it. my question is i go into proust's to answer it and there's no answer yet. like nicholas negroponte we don't have answers the we have a moment in which we must pause to think about what we want to preserve as we have the advantage of digital reading and all its context. ..
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>> i believe that our children who are becoming continuing partial attention that they spend as they read, there is a danger in this from the medium propensity and it makes more and more superficial readers. my real question is how can we create great readers? how can we use all of our intelligence to do expert reading as we move to the
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advantages. i thank you very much. >> thank you. [applause] >> did a great job. robert cumming you are up next. >> okay, i'm next. yes, i confess i have not read that particular book and it is very edifying. i find myself in agreement with it. i am not sure about the rubbish comment, however. and i should try to explain that. because it seems to me that notwithstanding, we don't really know what reading is when it goes on under our nose. we are beginning to know the we understand more about the hemispheres of the brain and the way that we give up messages and so on. but we are far away from this mystery, which is the actual process of reading. however, we are in the middle of a time of tremendous change.
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i don't think it is an exaggeration to say that there is a new orientation towards text to have art he developed and are pointing us in a new direction. we are trying to figure out where we are headed, it leaves in a kind of rearview me or that i hope will tell me something about what can inform us on where we are going now. and i do think that these technological revolutions, if you'd like to call him back, in the past matter. but they are few and far between. for centuries between. the most important one was a shift from reading by turning pages instead of unrolling schools. that would be invention of the codex around the time of christ. that is the way our sensory
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apparatus works, taking in messages to transcribe. we notice that words began to be spaced in medieval manuscripts. they were all run together before that. why is that? because the unit of perception wasn't the word at all. it was something in connection with oral communication. so cicero would have a few tablets that were wax and he would look for units of meaning that were not congruent with words. it was something done sometime in the middle ages. the experience itself became different. certainly, the invention of gutenberg, the difference of
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reading matter on paper. paper only became available widely in the west in the 14th century when it is combined with a 15th century and suddenly the democratization of reading is becoming a serious possibility. with mass education and increased wealth, we are moving into a new world in which the experience of reading is widely shared. but all these changes, it seems to me, i won't say less important, but now reading is, i think, fundamentally different. my students are born digital. , they switch from one medium to another rapidly.
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i would not say their attention span is desperately short, but i have a friend who teaches at the university of virginia, and he says that he cannot any longer a sign of the novel by henry james. it is just too long. too many big words. i think tweets and twittering and that sort of thing -- it is eroding our language of adjectives and adverbs. it used to be that there was a fundamental difference of reading a book, having a conversation on the telephone, going to the movies, and now you do them all with the same physical materials of strategy. so there is a kind of fusion in the experience of communication that simply did not exist before.
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so i am not very good at proper sizing the past, not to mention the future as a historian, but i do feel that technology is driving change in the way that we process text. we don't know what the hemispheres of the brain are going to do with it. but we do know a little bit of the sociology that surrounds it. i have pluses and minuses like you and i think that we are losing long-term reading over the long-distance reader, which is something that is very interesting. but maybe we are achieving things. the last book that i wrote actually appeared simultaneously in print and online. it is about communication in the 18th century. it is an academic monograph but you'll probably want to read. but the point is you can hear the songs -- the point is you
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can tune the into it and hear the songs online. that is where i think positive. there are new possibilities opening up through the electronic books and there are those where electronic media are being used. but the balance is is hard to say. i am eager to hear what the next panelist has to contribute. [applause] >> thank you. i wish i had the answers. i represent the traditional publisher, houghton mifflin harcourt. the perspective that i bring is the business of reading. in that regard, i am in
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agreement with so many things that have been said. when we think about twitter, i don't think i have heard the word like superfluity on twitter. i think we are at such an interesting time and place. it is really my believe that we are in a paradigm shift. and that is exactly where we are. as a publisher, we have to think how to adapt to this. one of the observations, i would say, is shifting to digital has created a power shift. i think a lot of the power, it has been shifted to the reader. there are a couple of images that we could put up.
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i really want to share the future of reading. and even the present of reading -- that is okay. okay. it is a profound loss, order list, personalized and social all at once. what i mean is that we are not just talking about the unbinding of a physical book but an infinite choice that the readers have. the likes of which nobody has ever seen before. how do you want to find content that you want to read. how do you want to inject it. do you like paper, do you like series of books, do you want some forms of content. that presents tremendous
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possibilities and we have to figure out how to create and make those investments due to experience that you, the reader, want. this is a really interesting one. if we talk about it even a year from now, we will see a very different market internationally i will try to go back there and there is this broader nature of accessing it, the unprecedented access that readers have be published in other countries and other languages, to have instantaneous access to these things, i think it is just mind-boggling. the access is so immediate. personalization i think is very interesting. i think it can be done very
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poorly and i think it can also be done very well. readers are in control here. small changes, at a publishing house, we put so much care in painstaking detail into the design of this. on the reader, you might change that and you might not want that. that is really comfortable for a publisher and really liberating from the reader. so how do we deal with those changes and control, if you will. you can think about readers customizing the content of them and really defining what you want the experience to be. we hear the word discovery.
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it's all about discovery. the means of doing that is just so rapid. you are discovering a personal relationship with the authors that was never possible before that has the impact of social networks that really has a huge impact. the book is very personal and very much to the discussion. there are technologies that allow discussions with in a book. and really, it is about thinking about all of the paradigms of the publisher and how does this work. in a situation where i believe we can have appeared on ship in discovery and construction and
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how this is consumed. and how the control is shifting to the reader. compelling content never goes out of style. it all starts with a great story with great content. it is our job to bring that to the readers. so we have to develop new skills and new tools and we have to develop new partnerships and experiment with new business models. more than anything else, something that is said to be successful. [applause] >> thank you. >> with that, down at the far end you heard that there are 1 billion readers coming to this reading force.
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we heard about my literacy and i'm not sure that america is ready for that. [laughter] we heard about political climate and henry james and the erosion of our language. and we heard about -- i want to use that as a hash tag. it might be great as a business leader. i am talking as an author who recently published a book -- i murdered a lot of trees. they make me angry. so i have been a blogger and an online person. a real person to, like in 3-d space, but it was an odd choice to go ahead and go with a printed book, given where my origins are in terms of expression.
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it was a great choice. i think that there were some fun things that we did in the process of taking advantage when you have heard so far, the book is a memoir. but it is also a provocation based by design to take advantage of the fact that there is a back-and-forth databases. so i asked a series of black experts, black people, like when did you realize you were black, how black are you -- [laughter] and that led to a very interesting set of commentaries. in the process of putting the book together, i did not forget my roots. and i had all the interviews and i'd tweeted the process and i tried to capture as much of the essence of the conversation beyond my own thoughts on the matter as i could to represent that. so there is video of the book. we marketed it heavily.
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we used it to talk about some of these questions. some were very painful responses. it was interpreted very seriously. we get a very subtle design decisions in the printed version of the book. we put the hash tag version there is a provocation to the reader. you can talk about this, here is the suggestive language. i will say that it is the way the tv shows show how you can talk about scandals or whatever it is you are watching. the physical design was very important. you guys had a great reaction to the book, which captures the range of all the action. my favorite is on the far right.
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but i think, you know, as someone who is arguing with my publisher, i am with harper, and i have proposed to go all digital, i would've left behind half my readership in terms of the sales. the whole world is not there yet. i would have missed opportunities like this. it is a physical provocation of conversation to see someone holding the book in the public. we flip the book, nearly 50% are black and 50% are white. it is advance racial profiling. so black people, don't be mad if you get the white book. [laughter] so that was a tactic. the most radical of breeding breeding experiments i was apart of, i wrote a significant chunk of the book in public using a web sharing program who allows for us to do tech support. i shared my screen as i wrote
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several chapters in the editing process. i am a performer, i do standup, but it turned writing into code writing. there were people asking to go right with me, which was not the idea. you can see how many people are there and you can see what they are saying and i have to minimize it. i went back after the fact and captured some of the commentary. and they said that they gave me a connection with the author. i think i am human and i am sorry to the machine. we used semicolons, which is weird, i didn't know how to have an anti; by.
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this is the best comment ever on the internet. [laughter] ever in the history of text on screen. i love the idea of the regular black. so i will close on this. we helped engage people, we collected a lot of data. we figured out all this access to information that i never found out before. her example, wednesday is the craziest day of the week. so that was incredible. [laughter] >> thank you. [applause] >> i didn't know how the rest of this was going to turn out. [laughter]
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to nicholas, i would like to start with you. you use the word dna when you we were talking about the future of reading. what that suggests is that the end product will look entirely different and reading is not where to look like reading. can you paint a picture of what things will look like 50 or 20 or so now? >> yes, in the following way. there is a 60-year-old saying that the media is the message. the message is the message. when i say dna, we talk about the atomic structure from which things calm. once you have the representation, you can then take those words, and we are talking about words, the visible representation of words, you can write them in smoke in the sky, you can have a machine grind them out on a tablet, you can do
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certain things. what i was trying to separate is that once you have them in that representation, not only is the distribution different, but you can do things like automatically translate or do things that transform it and then you put it into what may look and feel like paper. it's comfortable, you can hold it, you can know where you are, the pagination has some meaning of graphic design. all of these things are very important. when you say "future of reading", if we really mean the consumption of words, it has never been higher. never been higher for kids, never been higher for adults. we consume lots of them. what is going down, consumption of words going on. but we don't think of it as
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reagan. because what we need is a subcode of the word reading. we need things that have meaning and a beginning and an end and the narrative. so when we say reading, there is actually a certain -- it is that you are putting things around the word reading and it needs a kind of reading. when the attention span goes down, i don't think it is because of it being digital. i think the digital world has changed our life for the consumption of words is higher than it's ever been before. lots of things have changed because we have gone digital.
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>> the consumption of words is one thing. the composition of words and the use of syntax that all of us have studied in various ways, the consumption doesn't, for me, equate the deepest form of reading but i believe the species absolutely needs to handle as far as information goes. i mean, t.s. eliot said, where his wisdom when we have so much knowledge or where his knowledge when we have so much information? i am after all three. my worry is that this consumption actually obfuscates what is an insidious erosion of
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our capacity to think deeply about this. >> so i think that mary and robert have done a good job of presenting this notion of accessibility gone to the extreme in a sea of distraction of people. and nothing causes things like short attention span and etc. what i like to hear from the rest of you is the positive picture other than accessibility. is there anything else about the experience? >> yes, i can build on your were there, i have a new thing called cultivated risk. it is a start up and we are doing a lot of things with media. the social reading company they
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have allows you to extract clips from the books and the articles and share them and tag them and match them up and create a playlist of words. in a way that we have done with music and video clips. they are allowing us the sharing of a book. maybe we should read the footnotes and we have, we have new connections in the book is a massive chunk did not allow for a level of insight so easily to connect to the sentence and the photo. so you have to cut it up physically or beware to dedicate your life to the practice. and now we have that remix ability and new knowledge capable out of that. that is one super positive thing that i see.
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when i see a lot of other people talking about how the story is in the thing, there is a world that is created, one of them is the book, one is youtube channel and one is just a thought inside of someone's head that is exploitable and linkable. there is an unforeseen amount of magic and constructively that comes out of that this is having a book on a shelf somewhere that you read. maybe you guys get together and have beautiful babies. i don't know. that's my point. [laughter] >> welcome. you have had a lot of experience from being an academic and being a librarian and being on board to have this -- what would you
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like to see? what is the ideal feature that you'd like to see in the role of the future? >> well, i think i should just write on wednesdays, maybe. [laughter] [laughter] >> so i am happy to go on the road. >> this would be a future composed of just wednesdays. but seriously, i share the worry of maryanne wolf about the loss of long concentrated and even slow reading. we are in a rush to get to place to place. that sounds negative. but the positive thing, to me out outweighs the negative, it is what i call a democratization of access to culture. it is here and now and also the future.
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most human beings are so far removed that we can barely grasp the possibilities today. i mean, we have a lot of information and most people didn't own books, most people who did had the bible and the children's progress, and they read them over and over again. thanks to the electronic media and the internet, the cultural heritage of this country is going to be within the grasp of everyone in the country in the near future. we are creating something called the digital public library of america, which will make all digital books free to all readers. he was a utopian dream to the founding fathers. we can make it happen and we
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will make it happen. when i look into the future, i can't predicted exactly, but access to knowledge is going to be democratized to an enormous degree. >> maryanne wolf said that we work together and her team chose asked for what we brought in two villages in africa that had never seen the written word. no literate adults or children. about a thousand. they were left in the village enclosed boxes. no instructions, no person. within four minutes, the children turned on the power. within four days, they were
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using 47 applications per child, within two weeks, they were singing abc tones and within five months they hacked android. [laughter] we don't know whether they will pass the maryanne wolf test for deep reading in a year or two, but we are going to see. and then if you could show this last one, i think a democratization that you are talking about is so profound. most of them are in countries where literacy is extremely high demand i mentioned the digital public library of america. it is really for the world. we live in a global society and the idea of a nationalist approach makes no sense at all.
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>> i think that is one the most of the most compelling fights i have ever seen have kids using tablets for education. there are no adult, nobody reads or writes. when you look at the children, mary and i don't know exactly what the kid on the right is doing. but if you look at them, they all have tablets and the kid on the far right is using the other kids tablet. talk about collaborative learning. we will see experiment that they learn how to read and they can learn. >> also, it has been one of the great experiences in my whole life, and i think nicholas for it, to bring a body of knowledge about reading the 100 million children around the world who have no school or teachers. we don't know the future of these children.
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i actually do believe in working on this project. we are uncovering some of the very potential solutions to the problems that we are most worried about. for example, i actually think that we may, in the future, maybe the medium itself will be needed to work on the influential and illogical -- i don't think any of us believe that. but we do about that? so this is truly one of the great projects. >> a quick question for you. how do they hacked android? [laughter] nobody snuck into the village head help them. they have to because some idiot
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-- i don't know if it was a guy at mit or wherever -- we don't know. [laughter] but they disabled the cameras on the tablet and they figured out that they have the system to take pictures. [laughter] they have never seen a camera, so it's not clear to me how they figured out they should disable that. you know, or enable that. that's what they had done. >> would like to talk a little bit about future institutions that rely on things like publishers. but before that, i want to talk about mary and robert. i believe this might have been part of robert, but there was a sense of lots of culture at the time that the books were
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introduced. words that are disembodied make people stop thinking critically and have less contacts and except to because they are of a different body. has that concern them played out? had been overblown? how does that relate to the concerns that you guys are thinking about now with regards to the residual program? >> i think in this case, he was a very romantic person who loved oral culture and who saw books as what he called a cool media and they wanted to recover the lost world culture that he could have through television. well, i agree that his idea is fun to read, but they are obsolete. the world where children can
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break into boxes and began to manipulate machines that are utterly foreign to them, that is the world that is undreamt of. but what about disembodied words? it is very hard to imagine any words that are disembodied. what we are doing now, there is a setting in the context that exchanges thoughts through words. they are words printed through page, again, the context and the design of the page, the way that the paper feels in the hand and et cetera. all of that is part of the communications process. so i don't imagine any disembodiment at all, but there is something about electronic pictures that i think there is fundamentally different from words embedded in paper because
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embedded words -- they didn't just slap them on the surface of the paper. what that something is, i am not entirely sure. but i do see a flickering quality to the way people are construing the meaning when they look at screens instead of dealing with print on pages. but i some of that year. i mean, do you feel that that experience is significantly different? where do you feel it is another way of doing the same thing? >> i would like to say first that by no means, and i go back to your word mystery, by no means is descriptive reductionism explanation of the mystery that we can see in the differences when we listen to a word in context when we need it.
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it is what we bring to text in the time we take to bring everything we know. how we do everything we can to that word, will we take the time to do that in order to literally go beyond the text? that is the great beauty of the red word. it is not in opposition to the oral word. i also believe that the digital presented word is also another entity. and i do not understand it sufficiently at all. it is the future and the present, and we are not studying it sufficiently to understand that transition. >> to the question is a little bit different. and i think the answer is that we used to think of the display as what we were seeing here.
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it is reflective of saying it is something you can put in a tour and run out of an image. it really behaves like paper. and there will be more and more displays that look like and behave like paper and have some of those qualities. by now, you're staring at a 100-watt lightbulb. and that is not fun, that's not pleasant, and you don't want to get in bed with a hundred watt lightbulb. but on the other hand, reading in bed, the kindle is better than reading a book for a lot of people. it's lighter, you're not struggling to turn the pages, and i can make a whole story.
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>> how hard the struggle to turn the pages? [laughter] >> don't you hate it when this happens? to . [laughter] [laughter] >> edges of this, actually. you know, you advocate the kindle because you can do it with one hand. it is a one-handed thing of the media. and i think that is actually pretty good. >> it's very important. >> exactly. >> they used to be that publishers would take care of all distribution and production and it would provide the events. that series of services led them to take a hefty cut.
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now, you don't need production because you can get that anywhere, and you don't need advanced because it doesn't cost that much to write. you don't need the distribution either. so what is the changing role of publishers and that's what we're distribution are starting to be taken by different technologies? >> there's a lot in there. first, i actually disagree fundamentally with a couple of things. the productions, distribution, cost. you know, it's a very common misunderstanding. it's very easy to think that digital is free. it really is not. there is a lot of backlash over some of the books.
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there is a conversion process that takes place and there is a lot of care that must go into that. we are not replicating the book properly. there is a production not just of cost, but entirely new competency around production of the digital book and presenting that properly. i'm actually looking at the head of children's publishing because when you talk about children's books and how to produce something that conveys the illustration that the artist intended. >> that is only true for the first copy. everyone thereafter is free.
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because there is no marginal cost to make 10 million copies. >> the marginal cost of printing. the other thing i would say is shipping. [laughter] >> not necessarily. there is a deep infrastructure that is needed for the operation. the other thing is the state of the publishing today and that is if you talk about the future of reading and publishing, that is kind of the big question. will it be a complete swapping out of the digital media type of thing and in film. and in photography, that is. and in books, i believe there is
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not going to be swapping out 100%. i think it is a great example, there is a strong desire to have a physical book sit through with your child. five or 10 years from now, you know, we might be talking about something different. but today, publishers are in a world where they can be jumping the track from the physical to the digital where they are truly supporting key businesses. underlying that is a third business you're cultivating which is getting to place where we are not talking about the conversion of e-books. you're taking what used to be a physical form and putting it over into the digital front. the creation and really creating a digital project from conception with the author,
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developer, making it a completely new digital project. one thing you had forgotten was book publishers do, it is the heart of what we do. it is really bringing that story to shake that with the author and bring it to marketing in the best possible way. i think it exists in a more exciting when we talk about it. >> it is shaping the story, it could be the only role. because there is almost nothing left. >> in helping shape the story remapped. [laughter] >> i always wanted to get my john mclaughlin on. [laughter] >> i will say this, as the other side, until a publisher. i am very happy. i had a very explicit
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arrangement with harper about who is doing what and again, because they came from one of the digital foundation, i was skeptical of everything. i thought, i can do that, i can do this and that. what you got? and it turns out that i was wrong about a few things. i learned a ton in the process. having an editor was great. i was happy to have support of people and the distribution of the physical, that i love more completely. i got free advertising across the nation and i can't buy that. no single person can afford to distribute 10 or 15 or 20,000 books and hundreds of bookstores and libraries all around the world. and digital only doesn't do that. you cut off the physical marketing.
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so that helps support the digital. so there was the format -- and they literally would've gotten the physical one. so me and my campaign manager, we built this rabid internet army and harvard did the more big media plan. that is a networking. that is a fine art. it takes a fine amount of people to make that thing happened. the flood of authors can't pull that off on their own. so i found that i was wrong that publishers are useless. and i was glad for it. and i wanted to make sure that we were both doing something.
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and i learned a lot about the excitement of the limits of what individuals who create their own presence are about. there is a flood of reading and writing with tweets and books. and have you discovered or convince somebody that you are worth their time? attention is the currency, and whether you spend it playing on youtube or whatever, that is an equal choice to some people. right? we are all just competing for pixels or real estate, mental real estate. so many extra riders competing for it. who knows what the publisher is doing, they can out of a little bit of extra weight, a kick starter platform, they are going to print it out on their blog,
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or whatever. >> i think that is true, but you are an exception. you wrote a bestseller. the shelf life of a book and i'm sure that michelle can confirm that, is a matter of weeks or days. most books don't make it into bookstores. we are living in a different world. i agree in this world that publishers are crucial and really worried about booksellers. because that little person is beginning to disappear and outfits like amazon are transforming the way that reaches readers. then there is a movement in the other direction and i think very few people have noticed. there were about 350,000 new titles published in the u.s. last year. that is a 6% increase over the previous year and paper.
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but compared with the 350,700,000 twice as many are produced by independent authors who put them online there is a lot of garbage, but there's a lot of good stuff as well. i really feel that if you look at the publishing industry, don't know if you would agree, we are witnessing a transformation so that some of the metal intermediaries that move out, somehow the public is moving in in strange ways. it used to be said the books were written by the general reader. now they are written by the general reader. >> that's right, a lot of news these publishing. that is the beauty of the democratization.
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when you have three parties controlling the whole market, whether it is broadcasters are publishers, they have to shoot widely because you miss a lot in that. you miss a lot of ways to cater to need the map. we are shooting the slow, you can write about for these 10 people and that is still down and away but the previous industry could not support because of the physical needs and skills. >> okay, so we have about 10 minutes because baratunde thurston needs to go sign some autographs. [laughter] [talking over each other] [laughter] >> i would like to ask one final question and then we can have one or two questions from the audience. the related question is what is the role of the publisher of the future? you had mentioned that labors
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have never been a place for storage of books. they have been a place for learning. i would like to get a sense of what these places start to look like as they become more digitized? >> here we are in the boston public library. the place is full. libraries are becoming nerve centers for intellectual exchange for sociability and it is a place where you go and not just the main library, the branch libraries. in new york, there are 87 branch libraries. they are powerful neighborhoods. what do people do their? the talk with one another, they interact and get help from librarians who develop skills and services.
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also people go to places like this to find jobs. we have a lot of unemployed in this country. and they don't find jobs by reading the want ads in the daily newspaper because the daily newspaper doesn't kerry want ads. there are a lot of people out there who don't have computers and don't have jobs and need help. they go to their neighborhood library where there is a computer and it is a library and who can show them how to use the computer and help them present themselves to produce a cd. in order to get work. we have heard a lot on this campaign about jobs. but i say go to the library and if you really want to have an answer to that. [applause] i don't have a complete answer to what you're saying, but my basic point is that although i see a lot of these cultural intermediaries being threatened, such as bookshops, which are not
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the centuries of intellectual activities that they once were, dc public libraries in small towns and neighborhoods and cities is developing a vital role than they ever did have. >> did they exist in physical books? >> i doubt it. this is just looking at the way students study at harvard. we have one library that is open 24 hours per day. and he watched the students there. they are sitting in groups and have books on the table and i also have computers. they have coffee cups and they can eat in libraries, which used to be unkempt. there is a kind of new electricity in the air. the old library, where you just sat at the table and concentrated, the presence of
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books provides a setting about what matters. i can't see libraries look like 20 years from now, but we can imagine the mess we have time for two questions from the audience. >> okay. >> you raise your hand first? >> this is an excellent presentation and i'm glad i decided to come here today. i have been asking myself the question for you while and i am one of you can answer. every sunday, i read "the new york times" and on the bestseller list, on both the fiction and nonfiction side, there were three volumes written
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by pseudonyms, that i understand were mostly written by women. on the nonfiction side, there are books -- if there's one has now arrived, written by a gentleman that i send e-mails to. why are these two authors of best-selling authors in the united states currently? [laughter] >> can someone clarify this? >> he has 10 hours a week on tv. that is the way i understand how this is so successful. i don't understand why, but, you know. >> i can try to explain it.
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>> the lady folks, primarily. through word-of-mouth, i wish i could explain it. it is actually -- it started as something that was latched onto. i don't have a great answer to the question other than it is -- there are communities and people with an ego talking. >> maybe you should know what you're reading. >> from a quantitative perspective, the volume of sales it takes to be on that list is lowered and i got on the list in
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one to two weeks with a range of 1500. >> 2000 within that measured them in a period according to "the new york times" algorithms. that is not a lot of books. people don't just buy books. that is the first answer to your question. far too many people buy books than you think. and so the bestsellers confirm this gravitas and significance that are overstated versus the raw numbers might actually indicate. so that is truly an asset. but in general, we need to talk about the list. >> of i could add a quick note to that, i have created bestseller lists going back 200 years. and you find the same thing. >> not one thing.
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[laughter] it is not a zero-sum game. [laughter] >> it is very interesting. there are authors on these bestseller lists that no one has ever heard of. these people have disappeared. [laughter] we are getting excited for you, we? >> that might've been wrong. [laughter] okay, i will be quiet. >> i would like to add a word. this is not gray matter. >> my question to you here in the front, yes? >> my first